Susan Dennis, D.D.S., was born and raised in Hancock, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula. She earned her undergraduate degree at Michigan Technical University and went on to earn her Doctor of Dental Surgery at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry in Ann Arbor. Since beginning practice, Dr. Dennis has pursued postdoctoral continuing education in advanced cosmetic and restorative dentistry.
When asked why she chose to become a dentist, Dr. Dennis said that her orthodontist encouraged her when she was 16 and going through orthodontic treatment. He told her that it would be a wonderful profession for her because it involves nurturing personal relationships with patients. He also told her that women medical professionals enjoy dentistry because they have small hands and can establish good schedules.
Dr. Dennis actually began preparing for dentistry when she was small. “My mom started me off sewing and embroidering when I was three, and with that handwork, I developed three dimensional concepts as well as hand-eye coordination very early in my life. I love art as well as science and math,” she continued, “and my family includes mechanical engineers and teachers, so dentistry was a perfect fit for my upbringing and all of my loves and interests.”
She finds many aspects of her work particularly satisfying, especially working with people to help them. “We listen carefully to our patients’ requests,” she said, “and together we come up with the most defined treatments and solutions, whether it’s eliminating headaches, creating beautiful new smiles, or making chewing easier.”
Dr. Dennis said she finds the motivation to come to work each day in giving people the smile of their dreams, whether it requires full-mouth reconstruction or just bleaching their teeth to a beautiful, bright, youthful color. And mentoring her team to help them reach their highest potential is also a big part of what she loves about being a dentist.
In describing her treatment philosophy, she said, “First of all, I love to look at each individual patient holistically by diagnosing their systemic health and how it relates to their periodontal health, dental health, occlusion or bite, and cosmetic or aesthetic condition. I’m looking for the oral-systemic health connections, with a focus on treating and preventing all dental disease. I combine all of these factors to determine what is best for that individual patient.”
“I listen to each patient’s story and concerns,” she continued, “we co-diagnose, and then I prepare a treatment plan based on their needs and wants. We determine their history to find out what caused the disease, such as decay, tooth wear, or gum disease, and we help them find a way to stop destructive habits. Then we build systems with them for their home care to create and maintain the teeth and smile for a lifetime.”
“And finally, each of our patients is treated with utmost respect. We listen and plan together. Every patient is diagnosed carefully and I create a complete, type-written treatment plan for them in each category: soft-tissue, periodontal, tooth-by-tooth dental, occlusal (having to do with the bite) and aesthetic. Then we use this as a sequential map to plan for and correct their problems over the period time that is right for them.”
As far as her personal life goes, Dr. Dennis said, “I am happily married to my husband, Jim Murray, and together we have wonderful sons and daughters-in-law, and now five (soon to be six) grandchildren. We have one pet dog, Henrik who keeps us laughing with his funny and sassy antics. Jim and I fell in love with this family-oriented community and decided to locate here. We especially enjoy all that Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College have to offer in the form of vitality, sports, arts, drama, and diverse, contemporary leadership.”
In her leisure time, Dr. Dennis enjoys family gatherings and travel, gourmet cooking for nutrition and vitality, gardening and landscaping, lakeside and water sports, and exercise, which includes cardio and weight training, dancing, yoga, and running.